Jerusalem to Host Major Animation Project

One-third of the U.S.-Canadian production will be done in the Israeli capital.

Nati Toker
Nati Tucker
Screenshot from The Operating Room's website.
Screenshot from The Operating Room's website.
Nati Toker
Nati Tucker

Tens of millions of shekels in computer-animation work is heading for Jerusalem after The Operating Room, a Los Angeles-based animation firm part-owned by Israelis, signed a deal to produce a TV series for the children’s entertainment company Nelvana.

About 30% of the $10 million of production work for the first season of the show, which has not yet been named, will be handled by scores of animators working in the capital. If the show moves into a second season, the budget will grow considerably.

Although The Operating Room is based in Hollywood, Oded Turgeman, one of its two owner-founders, wants Israeli animators to be involved out of respect for their skills developed here.

“Nelvana is not only one of the biggest animated producers in the world, but it has set a goal of collaborating with Israel,” Turgeman said. “It’s no longer a secret that Israeli television can cross borders and succeed in the wider world. Animation is a universal medium. We’ll work to make sure that animation developed in Israel is an international success story.”

In recent years, Israeli producers have sold a wide variety of TV formats to foreign producers, including the bases for the hit series “Homeland” and “In Treatment,” as well as reality shows. The series “False Flag” (“Skufim” in Hebrew) was a featured TV series at the Berlin Film Festival this month.

Nelvana, a Toronto-based unit of Corus Kids Television, has produced over 4,000 half-hour animated episodes including properties such as Babar, Franklin, Rolie Polie Olie and the Berenstain Bears.

The producers of the planned series have approached the Jerusalem Film Fund to help with financing, with an application estimating costs at 14 million shekels ($3.6 million). The city said it would announce a decision in June.

Turgeman said The Operating Room was already producing two other series in Israel. One called “Polarizers,” an animated half-hour adventure series created by the designer Ido Vaginsky, has already been acquired by Nelvana. A second, “Adrenaline Lemmings,” is being produced by the director Alex Orrelle.

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